I am also interested in understanding how personality relates to our well-being (what is personality?). Personality is consistently found to be one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of an individual's well-being yet in economic research, where the focus is largely on how directly observable socio-economic events influence an individual's well-being in general or on "average", personality is largely ignored. The focus on the "average" however hides a substantial amount of variation in well-being reactions to these socio-economic events - some people may react positively to life events, whilst others may not. Much of our work has focused on establishing whether personality predicts how an individual might respond and also how personality might change. Specifically we have shown that:
Personality explaining outcomes:
Agreeable individuals recover lost life satisfaction following disability. Download paper.
Conscientious individuals experience greater loss aversion with respect to the financial domain. Download paper.
Conscientious individuals experience larger drops in life satisfaction following unemployment than those that are unconscientious. Download paper.
The influence of marriage on life satisfaction depends on personality. Download paper.
The effect of an income change on life satisfaction is dependent upon individual personality. Download paper.
In other aspects of my research I have demonstrated that rather than improve health, as has often been suggested, promotion at work can lead to increased mental stress.
I have expressed some of my views on the money-wellbeing debate in the popular press. These views are based on my own academic research which has specifically shown that:
How our income ranks among others is more important for life satisfaction than our absolute income. Download paper. We've now shown the same effect across a range of well-being indicators, including: mental health (download paper), and most recently physical health outcomes (download paper).
Factors such as personality are just as likely to change as income, and other economic factors, yet more strongly associate with changes in well-being. Download paper.
It is considerably more cost-effective to alleviate psychological distress through psychological therapy than with monetary compensation. Download paper.
Money and well-being
An enduring question within subjective well-being research is will more money improve our well-being or buy us any happiness? Much of my own research has centred on this important question.
A central question I am interested in understanding is why, in spite of substantial evidence to suggest that money is relatively unimportant for our well-being we still act and behave as if it is. Our mental and physical health, our social relationships, and our personalities, are much more strongly linked to higher well-being, but are we sacrificing these for higher incomes?
You can see a full list of my academic publications here